May 15, 2013
Tie-down roping is the classic Old West ranch chore, formerly (and occasionally still) called calf roping. Like the steer wrestlers and team ropers, tie-down ropers start in the box ready to compete. The calf is released and the cowboy must ride his horse out of the box quickly, rope it, dismount, then sprint to the calf and lay it on its side, called flanking. With a pigging string, usually held in the cowboy’s teeth, he’ll tie up any three of the calf’s legs. The clock stops when the cowboy throws up his hands. If the calf struggles free within 6 seconds, the cowboy gets a “no time.” Tie-down roping is very competitive and takes an extremely trained horse, usually a Quarter Horse. A good rope horse can cost $75,000 or more, and many ropers use each other’s horses at different events.